How to Overcome your Phobias
Your brain is Stronger Than Your Phobias
Everyone is afraid of something or the other things, fears can differ from person to person like talking on the phone to fear of walking around in the dark. From snakes to storms, to heartbreak, everyone has a different thing that they are afraid of. No fear that is bigger, or smaller than other fears. For example, I’m afraid of losing my loved ones, I have claustrophobia and also I’m afraid of thread. I know it’s unusual to fear from a thread. But yeah, I’m. Sometimes, people tend to tease other people and for having fear that they can’t fathom. But this is not right. People can handle their fears are on a minor level but when these fears get on a severe level then it causes tremendous anxiety and disturbs their daily lifestyle, these fears are known as phobias.
“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our fears.” — Rudyard Kipling
How to React to Fears
I know what it feels like to have an irrational fear that most people don’t fathom. My fear is common but not so common. I can’t get into crowded spaces. I can’t see the rolls of thread. I’m no stranger to the fact that I need to know how to overcome my fears. Despite all the facts, people can experience a great deal of sadness, depression, and get hurt. I have seen people (including me) suffering a lot because of how people reacted toward their fear. I’m getting better each day, but every time someone comments my fear and those negative feelings come rushing back to my mind. It’s not only for me, no one deserves to feel like they are being made fun of because of their fears. We should help and understand each others’ fears, and get to the roots of what is making them feel that way. I hope this will help you to gain some insight to know how to react to fears that others may have been suffering.
First let’s find out how the brain reacts to our phobias:-
Phobias in the brain
Fear is a biological response that is aimed to detect threats and help the person to survive. Fear always goes along with autonomic and endocrine changes that prepare our body to react to danger(fight or flight mode on).
Some fears are innate in human beings and we don’t have to learn them through an experience like fear of falling and fear of loud sounds. With time and experience, people become aware of threats of life. And they learn to deal with these dangerous situations.
Preparedness theory of phobias
According to Martin Seligman’s theory of Biological preparedness is a concept that people are innately prepared to form a sort of bonding between some specific stimuli and responses. This plays a crucial role in the learning process like people tend to form fear of things that may pose a threat to his or her survival such as water, heights, or snakes. The ones who learn to deal with such dangerous situations are more likely to survive. It can last for a long time. Also fear response can be reduced with time and experience, like when the stimulus forecast no danger.
Phobias in amygdala
In human beings, the amygdala is connected with both adjusted and maladjusted fear. The lateral nucleus of the amygdala receives information from all sensory methods, which is responsible for associating the information with the noxious stimulus. Studies have disclosed that all kind of information passes the lateral amygdala through two different sensory methods. The first one is the thalamic pathway that is short and passes information quickly but in an unclear way and the second is the cortical pathway which delivers a more intricate, clear picture of the external stimulus. The lateral amygdala is the center of synaptic changes underlying fear learning. Neural networks become strong as fear conditioning is accepted.
The central nucleus of the amygdala is in charge of sending every processed information to the brain stem and save the person from freezing in a dangerous situation. It also activates all the systems that cause endocrine and autonomic changes typical of fear.
The basal nucleus of the amygdala gets information from the hippocampus, entorhinal and polymodal associative cortices. Besides, the amygdala can’t let us forget about the events which took place in the past as it stores every information about the event that occurred.
Difference between normal fear and phobias
Experience of fear is common as well as help in some situations. Also, it prepares our body and activates the automatic fight-or-flight response to protect from danger.
- Our fears intensified as the storm approached.
- Fear of losing your job
- You get nervous when you see a dog
- Fear of looking foolish in front of people
You can’t attend an event because you’d have to fly there.
Couldn’t accept a great job because it’s was on the 9th floor.
You can not meet so many people at a time because it makes you anxious
Avoid rain because of thunder and lightning.
Children face normal fear
All the fears that children go through in their childhood are innate and tend to develop until particular ages. As you know young children usually get afraid in dark and they sleep while the lights are on. We can’t say they suffer from a phobia. Children get over the fear with time.
Common fears in children:
0-2 years old child may fear of objects, stranger, and loud noises. From 3 to 6 years, the child can get afraid of the dark, ghosts, or strange noises. From 7 to 16 years, children may face more realistic fears such as injury, illness, and school performance.
If your child has some kind of fear which is disturbing your child’s school performance, their activities, or sleep, you need to see a child therapist.
Types of phobias
- Environmental phobias: when a person suffers from a fear of water, storms, of the dark, and heights.
- Animal phobias: when a person is afraid of snakes, spiders, rodents, and dogs.
- Situational phobias: these kinds of fears triggered by a particular situation including the fear of enclosed spaces claustrophobia, flying, driving, tunnels, and bridges.
- Some people also fear the needle of injection, Blood, and Injury.
Other common phobias
Social phobia: known as social anxiety disorder, it’s a fear of social situations where a person can’t speak in front of so many people. If a person has social phobia, they may have low self-esteem and a low level of confidence.
Nomophobia: when a person can’t stay without his or her phone. I must say, these days everyone is a victim of this phobia. And phobia is on the rise, especially in adults.
Mysophobia: people afraid of germs or dirt. This is related to OCD. The person prefers to stay clean and keep his surroundings clean.
Phobophobia: when a person is afraid of having a phobia.
If you are curious to know about more phobias then click on links given below:
Changes in health
People with phobias can often face troubles and have panic attacks. These can be very frightening, distressing, and dangerous. All the signs often occur suddenly and without any kind of warning. So, an overwhelming feeling of anxiety or a panic attack can be the reason for physical symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Respiratory problems
- Rapid heartbeat, pain or tightness in the chest
- Headaches and dizziness
In severe cases of phobias, a person may go through psychological symptoms:
- Fear of losing control over their mind
- Fear of fainting at any place
- Fear of dying
Complex phobias are social phobia or agoraphobia can often affect a person’s daily lifestyle and mental health. A phobia can develop during his or her childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood in an individual. Phobias are often related to a frightening situation.
Specific phobias like fear of heights usually develop during childhood. It is connected to an early negative childhood experience. The family environment can be a big reason to have a phobia. Parents who are always anxious may affect the way their children deals with anxiety in their life.
Brain chemistry, genes, and life experience play an important part in having a phobia. The body prepares and deals with the threat by releasing the hormone adrenalin, which causes physical symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- A rapid heartbeat
A self-help program can help you:
- Try to change your lifestyle
- A course of CBT
- Attend a self-help group
- Using exposure therapy to overcome your phobias
If you will make simple changes, it will surely help you to reduce the symptoms of a phobia, such as panic attacks:
- Regular exercise
- Eating regular, healthy meals
- Getting enough sleep
- Reducing or avoiding caffeine and other stimulants
Most phobias can be cured, but one single treatment is not enough to work for every phobia. Sometimes, a combination of a different kind of treatment is provided to people such as:
- Self-help techniques
- Talking treatments
Talking treatments is a counseling process that often works effectively while treating phobias. Specifically, if I say, then cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness are very effective for treating phobias.
CBT is a part of the counseling process that can help to manage problems by changing the way you perceive and behave towards things. It helps the people to develop practical approaches to dealing with their phobia.
Medication is recommended on a short-term basis to treat the effects of phobias like anxiety.
There are 3 types of medications:
Need to see a doctor
Sometimes, a troublesome fear can be vexatious for using stairs instead of an elevator but it isn’t a specific phobia unless it disturbs your life. If it’s affecting your work life, school, or social situations, you need to see a doctor or a mental health expert. Childhood fears are common like fear of the dark, fear of ghosts, or of being left. You need to take him or her to a doctor. Most people who suffer can be cured with the help of the right therapy. Therapy can be more useful and easier when the phobia is addressed.
Why people are afraid of heights? Because they are afraid of falling. So, it’s all within. If you can control your fears then it’s well and good. But if your fear will control you then it’s going to destroy you on the inside. It’s better to win otherwise you will be in a fight that will go on forever. Listen to your fears before making any kind of decision but never let your fears decide a future for you.